Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon pledged up to $25,000 for a mural dedicated to memorializing COVID-19 deaths. The mural will be a permanent memorial for over 600 Knox County residents who reportedly died from COVID-19. The commissioned artist, Kelsey Montague, is best known for “What Lifts You” – the popularized angel wings mural located in the Nashville Gulch.
The pandemic memorial mural will be located on one of the Clinch Avenue Viaduct underpasses at the World’s Fair Park; it will depict brightly-colored birds flying upward into a blue archway toward the base of the historical Sunsphere. Kincannon announced this development in a press release on Thursday.
The mayor said that adherence to mandates like social distancing, public gathering limits, and masking best reflected the community coming together.
“Everyone has suffered and sacrificed over the past 14 months – and some much more so than others,” stated Kincannon. “Our hope is that this memorial will be a place of solace and healing. It will recognize how we as a community came together to look out for one another during a public health emergency.”
In a statement shared with Dogwood Arts, the nonprofit arts advocacy partnering with Knoxville to commission the mural, Montague explained that parts of the mural will symbolize certain individuals who died from COVID-19 specifically.
“Each bird is unique and will represent a person lost to this pandemic,” stated Montague. “The act of ‘releasing’ the birds across the wall, I hope, is cathartic to the residents of Knoxville. We will always remember those we lost and we will honor their unique contributions to the world.”
Kincannon noted that Montague was chosen because she wanted to help families hurt by COVID-19.
“Kelsey always aims to be inspiring, and I like how she invited passersby to make themselves a part of her art,” said Kincannon. “This artist was passionate about wanting to reach out and help families hurt by COVID-19 to heal and recover. She created a message with her memorial design that’s truly unique – you won’t find it anywhere else.”
According to the press release, painting of the mural will begin next week.
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